NRPA Analysis of the President's Proposed 2011 Federal Budget

From the National Recreation & Parks Association


March 8, 2010

President's Budget includes increase for LWCF State Assistance Program; New Youth Conservation Programming and Community Development Initiatives

On Monday, February 1st, President Obama released his proposed $3.8 trillion budget for FY 2011. In late January, the President announced a Budget Freeze, in response to the $1.56 trillion deficit According to the Obama Administration, the freeze on non defense/security discretionary is focused on finding cost cutting savings with a "scalpel rather than an ax." The 3-year freeze is focused on keeping selected federal spending to $447 billion annually from FY 2011- 2013.

The good news is that in light of the Budget Freeze, there are proposed increases for key programs and a number of new initiatives that positively impact parks and recreation. This means that the advocacy efforts of NRPA are working and the Obama Administration is realizing the need to invest in c1ose-tohome access to outdoor recreation, public lands, and programs promoting livable communities and youth development While the President's budget numbers signal a renewed interest in parks and recreation, funding for park and recreation programs has steadily declined over the past decade, and as a result, the National Park Service reports more than $12 billion in unmet needs relative to outdoor recreation resources. Now more than ever, advocates must convince Congress that an even greater investment in parks and recreation is needed in order to build healthy, sustainable communities.

The President's proposed budget is the first step in the annual funding process. Next, Congress will agree on overall funding levels for federal government spending and produce a gUiding budget blueprint The Committee on Appropriations will set spending limits and subcommittees will determine the spending levels of each agency and program. Both the House and Senate will pass versions of each appropriations bill, resolve differences between the bills, and will send to the President for his approval.

The President's budget includes the following programs that benefit parks and recreation agencies:

• $434 million for total LWCF including $50 million for State Assistance
• $9.3 million for Interior's 2011 Youth in Natural Resources Initiative (New)
• $3.99 billion for HUD's Community Development Block Grant Program (CDBG)
• $150 million for HUD's CDBG Catalytic Investment Fund (New)
• $150 million for HUD's Sustainable Communities Initiative
• $20 million for CDC's Big Cities Initiative Program (New)
• $102 million for CDC's Preventative Health and Health Services Block Grant
• $22.4 million for the CDC's Healthy Communities Program
• $1.0 billion for Dept of Education's Effective Teaching and Learning for a Complete Education

The following is a brief analysis of the new and existing programs within the President's BUdget that are of greatest interest to park and recreation agencies and which are relative to NRPA's legislative platform.

Department of Education

The President's budget recommends the creation of a new program entitled Effective Teaching and Learning for a Complete Education Program. The budget recommends $1.0 billion in funding for this program with $265 million to expand support subjects including: history, the arts, foreign languages, environmental literacy, and economic and financial literacy. The addition of environmental literacy to the President's budget sends a signal to Congress that the Administration views this as an important issue that deserves funding. This could significantly influence Congressional action on the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and the inclusion of the No Child Left Inside (HR. 2054 and S. 866) bill in the reauthorization.

Department of Health and Human Services

The budget for Health and Human Services is proposed at $81.3 billion, which includes Investments in our Nation's prevention and wellness activities to improve health outcomes and lower costs, through the Federal workforce, community-based and State and local efforts. This is a $4.5 billion increase from the FY10 budget. This year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) budget includes investments of $20 million for the CDC Big Cities Initiative to reduce the rates of morbidity and disability due to chronic disease in up to ten of the largest U.S. cities. This competitive grant program will be a way to reach large populations with high population densities. The goal of the program is to reduce rates of morbidity, disability, and premature mortality due to chronic diseases in these population centers. Funded cities will be provided with a variety of evidence-based actions and strategies to help them reduce these risk factors that lead to chronic disease. Since this program is a new initiative and has not yet been funded, regulations on the funding criteria or eligible cities has not been developed. NRPA will continue to monitor information on which cities are eligible.

Additionally, there is $102 million in funding for the Preventative Health and Health Services Block Grant. These funds will support primary prevention activities and health services in States and local communities. Lastly, CDC is requesting $22.4 million for the ACHIEVE Healthy Communities Program in FY11 to support local communities in implementing evidence based interventions and policy, systems, and environmental changes to achieve the critical local changes necessary to prevent chronic diseases and their risk factors. In FY10, Congress provided $22.8 million to the program, thus this is a $414,000 cut to the Healthy Communities budget. However, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act provided over $600 million for "Healthy Communities" activities which impacted the FY11 bUdget amount. Through Healthy Communities Funding, NRPA awarded grants to ten park and recreation agencies in 2009 to work with other community organizations to carry out this component of the Healthy Communities Program.

Department of Housing and Urban Development

The budget for the Department of Housing and Urban Development is proposed at $41.6 billion, which is 5% lower than FY10. Of great importance to urban areas, the Community Development Block Grant Program (CDBG provides significant funding to local park and recreation agencies. In the FY11 budget, the program is flat funded at $3.99 billion. Traditionally, park and recreation programs have received about $100 million per year or more in CDBG funding which is locally determined. This year, within CDBG, the President is requesting $150 million in funding for a new program, the CDBG Catalytic Investment Fund. This would be a competitive grant program for local projects in eligible communities designed to support innovative and targeted economic investments for neighborhood and community revitalization. In essence, this would be the seed money to develop such plans and programs. If funded, this could potentially be another source of funding for park and recreation agencies. At this time, this is a new program being initiated by the Administration and the regulations that would set forth funding criteria has not been developed.

Like FY10, the President is requesting $150 million to connect transportation and housing through the Sustainable Communities Initiative. This program is a multi agency partnership between the Departments of Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and the Environment Protection Agency to better coordinate federal transportation and housing investments and identify strategies to give American families more choices for affordable housing near employment opportunities; provide additional transportation options to lower transportation costs and shorten travel times; and improve the environment and provide safer, livable communities.

Department of Interior

The President's FY11 BUdget includes funding for the Department of Interior at $12 million, which is the same as FY10. The National Park Service will be funded at $2.29 billion, which is an increase of $35.3 million from FY10. The President's proposed budget provides $434 for the Land and Water Conservation Fund. The bUdget prOVides $50 million for LWCF State Assistance grants (25% increase). This is an increase in total LWCF funding of over $100 million for total LWCF funding. Also within the President's budget, $100 million is included for USDA's Forest Legacy Program and $85 million for the Cooperative Endangered Species Fund. On Monday, Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar, announced the 2011 Youth in Natural Resources Initiative with an additional $9.3 million, to "expand the BLM, FWS and NPS programs" to support youth activities including internships, summer youth employment programs, and outreach. He specifically announced increases of $5.8 million to enhance existing National Park Service operations funding to introduce youth to the National Parks' mission of conservation and preserving national treasures. This initiative within the National Park Service will "ensure that young Americans, age five to 25, from difference economic, ethnic, social and cultural backgrounds learn about and park resources."

From the National Recreation & Parks Association

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